(CNN) – A new study by the Scripps Research Institute in Florida suggests the new coronavirus has mutated in a way that makes it more contagious.
The mutation gives the virus 4 to 5 times more spikes, which makes it more stable and allows it to infect human cells easier, according to researchers.
Scripps Research said more study is needed to show whether the change has altered the course of the pandemic.
The changes in the virus may explain why there are so many infections in the Americas and Europe.
Other researchers have suspected this.
Still, it’s unknown whether the mutation changes the severity of symptoms or increases mortality.
Scripps Research says its study is undergoing additional research. Other scientists are conducting a peer review to see if they get the same results.
This week, the World Health Organization said the coronavirus mutations seen so far would not affect the vaccines under development.